Boston, MA - Karen Akunowicz is nothing if not highly visible. From a seven year stint as executive chef at the South End’s Myers + Chang (with whose owner, Joanne Chang, she co-authored last year’s Myers + Chang at Home) to her 2015 appearance as a fan-favorite competitor on Top Chef to this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast, she’s carved a name for herself in Boston’s culinary landscape. Now she can add restauranteur to her roster come November when she plans to open Fox and the Knife, an Italian-style enoteca, in South Boston.
"It’s not a big, fancy new space," says Akunowicz, who announced she was departing Myers + Chang in June. "I bought a restaurant—the owners moved across the country. I’m just doing a little redesign. It’s in an old building in Southie. It has a lot of love and character. It's not the biggest or brightest or fanciest, but I think we can come into a neighborhood that’s in the middle of a lot of change—Southie is definitely someplace that is in the middle of all this crazy gentrification—and hopefully be something for everyone. Everybody can come in at a price point that people can afford and some place that feels warm and friendly for everyone."
If the shift from Akunowicz’s inspired takes on Chinese fusion to Italian seems drastic, it shouldn’t. Prior to her experience with Myers + Chang, Akunowicz spent a year in Moderna, Italy studying pasta-making, as well as cooking stints at the Back Bay’s former Via Matta and Cambridge’s Oleana—proving that the New Jersey transplant’s as equally adept at tackling diverse cuisines as she is garnering awards and accolades.
So far, Akunowicz is keeping silent on the exact location of the restaurant, only hinting that it will be “a warm, welcoming neighborhood joint."
"It’s going to be amazing," she said of her proposed 75-seat solo venture. "It’s going to be crazy, like everything always is."